1 Peter 3:19-22
1 Peter 3:19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;
1 Peter 3:20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.
1 Peter 3:21 The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:
1 Peter 3:22 Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.
Perhaps one of the most difficult and perplexing problem verse in the New Testament was found here in this short Epistle by Peter. In between Christ’s death and resurrection Jesus made a special proclamation to “the spirits in prison.” This raises two questions: Who were these “spirits” that He visited? What did He told them? What about the issue regarding baptism in verse 21? Let’s analyse its meaning verse by verse and see that the Holy Spirit wants to teach us here.
I. He went and preached (1 Pet. 3:19 a)
A. The word preach here is kerusso which means to herald (as a public crier), to proclaim openly something which has been done.
B. It’s not the same as the word for declaring the gospel (as in 1 Pet. 1:12, and 4:6), so we can conclude that Christ was not ministering or witnessing to the wicked spirits.
C. What did Christ proclaim?
1. He proclaimed His victory over death, over sin, and over the power of Satan.
2. This proclamation caused the demons to realize that their work had been useless.
3. All the evil spirits attempts to sabotage our salvation through the cross were all failure.
II. Spirits in prison (1 Pet. 3:19b)
A. Who are this spirits?
1. I believe they are the fallen angels who are now permanently kept in prison for their wickedness.
2. They were disobedient fallen angels who were imprisoned there since the time of Noah.
3. “in the days of Noah” this was the time when the rampant disobedience of the angels took place, resulting in this grievous punishment.
4. These demons were the one causing people to commit sin and wickedness, even sexual sins and perversions so that even for 120 years while the ark was being built and Noah preaching, he could not convince anyone except his family.
5. The Bible also tells us that the pre flood people were wicked and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually (Gen. 6:5).
6. The pre flood people were ungodly and the demons or evil spirits have something to do with it or they were influenced by them.
7. Jesus Christ is not giving a “second chance” to those people who died in their unbelief. There is no second chance after death (Heb. 9:27). Christ did not preached to the unsaved people who died in the time of Noah.
8. There are other demons who are not yet bound such as those we read in Mark 5:1-13. They would soon be sent to the lake of fire (Mat. 25:41, Rev. 20:10).
III. The place “prison” (1 Pet. 3:19b)
A. Let me explain to you some terms before we go further.
1. Sheol – the Hebrew word commonly translated “hell.” Sometimes sheol refers to the grave (Eccl. 9:10; Isa. 38:18-19), but usually it refers to the place of the departed spirits of men (Gen. 37:35; Ps. 9:17; 16:10; 30:3; 55:15; Pr. 15:24; 23:14).
2. Sheol – is divided into 3 compartments (Luke 16:22-26)
a. Abraham’s bosom which is also called paradise, place for the saved people.
b. Hades (Greek) – the place of punishment for the unsaved.
c. Great gulf – in between paradise and hades, a place where no one can pass by.
3. At the ascension of Christ (Eph. 4:8-10), paradise was transferred to heaven (2 Cor. 12:1-4)
4. There is another place mentioned in 2 Peter 2:4 which is called Tartaros. It is a special compartment of hades where “angels that sinned” are confined in “chains of darkness” to be reserved unto judgement. They are also described in similar terms by Jude 6.
5. I believe that the “prison” mentioned here is Tartaros.
IV. The topic about Baptism (1 Pet. 3:21)
A. This verse shows the error of baptismal regeneration which the Church of Christ and other groups are teaching.
B. Baptism is a figure, a symbol, a picture.
C. Baptism is not a part of salvation.
D. Baptism is symbolic of salvation.
E. We are saved, not by water going our bodies, but by faith alone in Christ alone.
F. For those who insist that Baptism can save using Mark 16:16, take note of this:
1. The basis of condemnation is unbelief only.
2. The apostles did not preach that you must be baptized to go to heaven. They preached salvation by faith alone.
3. The Gospel never changes. The Gospel has always been, and always will be, by grace through faith plus nothing. (Eph. 2:8-9)
4. There are NT examples of people who were saved before they were baptized. Read what happened to Cornelius in Acts 10:43-48.
The verses we have just read are very controversial and this short message will not be enough to settle the issue. However, I believe that it will a blessing to those who really believe the Word of God.